Category Archives: Organizing

Kids’ Clothing Storage Part 2: The Logistics

As you’ll see in my first post of this 2 part series, “Counting the Cost of Kids’ Clothing Storage“, I am NOT for keeping everything.

But since it is often essential to store clothes, here is what works for us. I am a visual person who hates sorting. Therefore, I tend to store things in such a way that I only have to sort once a season. And since I am often pregnant, I store things in a way to access heavy boxes while pregnant.

- I keep most smaller sizes since I can fit 4-5 sizes in one tote and would NOT feel like shopping with a new baby and umpteen little kids in toe. (Though I pitch all stained clothes)

-For larger sizes, I keep the higher price items like dresses, coats, jeans, and shoes.

-For larger sizes, I toss or give away most pjs, a lot of the shirts, socks, and bibs because they are often worn out anyway. (Since my kids only have 5-8 outfits each, we wear things out!)

Here are the storage methods that work for us.

-I rotate the next 2 seasons of clothes into AN EASY-to-get-to tote that contains all 4 of the kids’ upcoming clothes so I can quickly grab any needed items out in the months before switching over. (This also helps me evaluate what I need). I keep a list on the box so I can reference it.Logistics of Kids' Clothing Storage  photo 2-7

-I keep upcoming clothes, clothes they are growing out of, and the shoe tote on easy-to-get-shelves in the basement so I don’t have to stack and unstack the heavy totes while pregnant. (These shelves are sold for $20-$30 each at Menards) Completely worth it.

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- I store multiple sizes in one tote but ALWAYS divide the sizes so I can rifle through them quickly without mixing them up.

  • For smaller sizes, I keep all my items for each size in 3-4 gallon size storage bags so I can just  pull out the “NB sleepers” bag or “0-3 month Dresses Bag” as I need them. (I also use gallon size bags for trips to divide up kids’ outfits. A $2.28 box of 45 bags can save SO MUCH sanity!)
  • for larger sizes, I just break up a cardboard box and ‘build dividers inside the sealable plastic tote.

Logistics of Kids' Clothing Storage 3      Logistics of Kids' Clothing Storage 2- I DO NOT keep a box in the kids’ room to yank out outgrown clothes like I used to. Because I have 3 kids in one room, it ended up that everything just got too mixed together in the ‘outgrown box’. I’d have to resort it – which I hate so then I’d procrastinate. It is much easier to just switch the next size or season at ONE SINGLE time. (Then I can’t procrastinate because they need the next size or season!) Immediately packing everything away and moving everything in means minimal sorting.     (I HATE sorting though so this is more a sanity saver then probably a good idea, and it does get annoying the last month before they are fully ready to switch.

- Since I’m on the subject of clothing storage, my husband and I keep our off-season clothes in a dresser. IT IS SO FAST AND EASY to get the items we need! No lugging out boxes, just pulling open a drawer!

There are some ideas that work for us!

-Verity

Kids’ Clothing Storage Part 1: Counting the Cost

Counting the Cost:

Cost of Kids' Clothing Storage Picture 2

Kids’ Clothing Storage SAVES money, but it also COSTS money.

Like anything else, you need to determine:

Savings vs Cost

I added up that each of my clothing totes saves me $100 of clothing that I would otherwise replace sale clothes or at Goodwill clothes.

Also, I have to store each of those clothing totes an average of 3 years. So on average each tote saves me $33 a year.

(Most people will have to store their clothes longer since most don’t have a new baby every 17 months.)

However, it also costs me storage space, sanity, and stress. 

I didn’t put a dollar figure on how much storage costsme, but I gave myself a maximum storage tote number to stay at.

Here’s how I decided HOW MUCH to Keep:

I decided that I only have a place for 26 plastic totes in my basement.

(Photos, Tableware/Kitchen, 4 Christmas, Linen Closet Overflow, 2 Books, Special Toys kids will grow into in next couple years, Craft/Sewing Box, 4 totes for my husband’s teaching business, Formalwear, Kids’ Shoes, Maternity clothes, 2 Nostalgia, and only SIX storage boxes for the kids’ clothing).

From looking at this list, I’m thinking I should pare down some more on the other stuff too…

Beyond that, I start running out of room in the basement.

That tells me that -

-I don’t have space for keeping much extra AT ALL

-I need to fit multiple sizes in one box

-Items that won’t be used for longer periods SAVE ME LESS (My son just outgrew 4t pants, but it will be 5 years before another boy [if I got pregnant now with a boy - something which my girl-friendly family genetics make less then likely] would wear them so it will only save me AT MOST $20 a year to save his 4t clothing. However, my daughter just outgrew her 3t clothing, and my next daughter will wear it next year. It will SAVE me $100 to store a box of those clothes.)

Cost of Kids' Clothing Storage Picture 1

 

I hate sorting and figuring out clothes, and my husband has repeatedly offered for me to just buy new for the kids each year, but from this chart, I can see that the saving a percentage is still worth it to me.

In the end, I came up with some methods that saved us the most with a lessoned burden of kids’  clothing storage. Check out my next post on the logistics of kids clothing storage.


-Verity

 

Our Toy Decluttering System

Pretty much all moms get frustrated with toy clutter.

I thought a group toy box under their bed and some additional personal toys kept in their own personal spaces would be okay, but we ran into a couple big problems.

(1) No one took responsibility for the clean up of the ‘group’ toys and (2) each hoarded so much in their personal space, they couldn’t fit it all in!

I’ve downsized enough that I did not want to get rid of more of their toys at this time. (Though maybe in a couple months…) However, I did need to remove them from the stress of every day!

A friend said she had taken away all but a few of her kids’ toys until they learned to be responsible enough to clean them up.

This seemed like a great idea. Here’s how it worked for us.

I taped numbered cards on the floor and let each child pick out his or her favorite 10 toys.

Here are pictures of the toys that they picked. photo 1

The top picture is of my 4 year old son’s toys.

photo 2Then my 3 year old daughter’s toys. Yes. She loves dolls.

photo 3Finally the 18 month old’s.

The rest went into a big box which I hid away in the basement.

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If the child wants a toy from the box, he or she has to trade one of his or her ‘special ten.’ The only one who has done this has been my oldest. The girls don’t seem to remember the other toys even exist.


I also took the opportunity to pick out a few car toys that stay in the car. This was a brilliant move! 

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In the last 2 months, my son has ended up with more like 20 toys. He’s proven himself responsible and always cleans them up. Since he wants to keep his 20 toys. the system has motivated him to be more responsible! My 3 year old still has about 10 which fit easily in her personal basket, and my 18 month old has about 7. Toy clutter has become almost nonexistent.

 

Beyond this I keep toy sets locked in two cabinets, but I’m the only one with access to them.

There you have it! This is the system that has worked for us!

-Verity

Shopping with Toddlers!

Shopping with small children seems to get a range of reactions when I talk to other moms. Some hate it. Some love it. Some do it multiple times a week. Some have a single shopping day.

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I used to dread shopping with my kids – especially when my most challenging child was in the terrible twos. (And legitimately some kids are simply hard!!)

However, now it’s become A LOT easier to shop with my kids. Here are some tips that have helped.

 

 

  1. Make a list according to the lay-out in your grocery store.

Example:

Fruit

Cilantro

Tomatoes

Onions

Green Pepper

Lime

Frozen Juice

Frozen Vegetables

Chocolate Chips

Milk

Butter

2. Shop at their happiest time

My kids are morning people. Melt-downs are diminished by 95% if we can get to the store by 9:30 AM and home by 12:00 PM.

I feel really bad for moms who have no choice but to take their kids after work when everyone is tired and grouchy. If I lived closer, I’d completely watch your kids for you!

3. Avoid tough places (ie: toy aisle)

We do go to the toy aisle if we need to get a present for someone. We did today actually), but if we don’t have to, I push the cart by there fast – wouldn’t you if you had a cart full of toddlers??

4. Have a plan in place for if they want a toy.

That said: here is how we deal with toy-wantiness.

A. I tell them to put it back with its friends, and they are required to obey.

Most of the time, it is a non-issue. However, if there is a melt-down, I’ve come to realize that we all have had those moments.

No one should be judging me because everyone has either had kids or is clueless about the reality of what kids are like.

Therefore this meltdown is NOT about our audience. It is about my child.

Therefore it is:

- an opportunity to help my child work through a character issue by kneeling down at his or her level and talking it through with them until they can gain victory over their covetetousness.

OR

-A time to push the cart away fast, get over my embarrassment and deal with the child later – once they’ve cooled down and the temptation is not right in front of their face.

B. If it is an item that I’m okay with them getting, I will give them an option to buy it themselves.

  1. They have to come back with their own money. (Which they earn doing jobs for me). This often means they need to save too. Since most toys cost $8-15, this means it will take a couple months to earn that much. Two times now, my four year old son has put in the work to earn some special toys, the rest of the time, he forgets about it.
  2. They have to remind me later. (and 95% of the time they forget.)
  3. They have to get rid of a SPECIAL toy at home. My kids are down to just 10 toys each besides stored play sets. They carefully selected these out of the mass of toys to keep while the others were toted away. When it comes to some enamoring object in the store or one of their beloved favorites, they rarely abandon their favorites.

 

 

5. Punishments in Public

Shopping with me is a privilege and with every shopping trip comes privileges that can be lost.

1. Buckled: If they are in the auto cart, I let the older two stay unbuckled so they can jump down and grab items for me, but if they are not listening, they lose the privilege.

2. Auto-cart: They LOVE the carts with the cool seats! However, we only use them two thirds of the time. If they don’t obey well, the next week, I get two carts and push one and drag one.

3. No reward

I do almost always get them a food item as a reward for being good. Bribery? Kind of. But I think if a small child is good for a tempting shopping trip, they deserve some tangible form of positive feedback.

Usually this is a $1 cheeseburger or a fun (EASY) lunch item so they are fed and ready for a nap when we get home.

If they misbehave – no reward.

4. Discipline at home

Sometimes (like hopping out of the cart and jumping around in the paper towel rolls or racing away while Mama yells to come back or a tantrum from an older child),  there is some form of punishment at home – after I’ve cooled off and where we can deal with the issue face to face.

6. Bring a snack for the check-out

Check-out is when everyone is most grouchy and where the rotten stores have put toys and candy right at kid-level.

If there is one place to have a snack – this is it!

6. Have any coupons ready ahead of time!

If I have an infant, they are usually DONE and ready to eat about check-out so it’s either balance baby and rip out coupons or have them pre-ripped.

That’s it! I can’t say our shopping time is painless, but at least I don’t dread it!

I hope these tips help!

-Verity

 

Minimalist Preschool Boy Wardrobe

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It is fun to get lots of clothes with the first child however, once you start having multiples, you start to get sick of so many pieces to sort and wash!


With my kids playclothes, I dress them in mostly jeans. Then it is very easy to match shirts. The goal is to be able to change your child in the dark and have it match – because everything is mix and match. (Though there are a few exceptions with my daughters who like play dresses.)

My son’s core wardrobe colors are blue, red, dark green and black with a little brown.


5 play shirts (Long sleeved T-shirts in Winter; short sleeved in summer)

4 pair play pants (3 jeans & one other color that matches all his shirts) (In summer there are 3 pairs of shorts and 1 or 2 pair of pants)
Picture1 pair dress pants (2 would be better – a khaki and black)

4 dress shirts

3 play hoodies (Our house is cold)

2 nice sweaters

Play shoes

Boots

Slippers

Dress Shoes
12 pair Socks

7 underwear

4 pair pajamas (he only needs 2 but the summer pajamas stayed upstairs with the winter pajamas per his request.)

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A coat for the season

In the picture, not all his clothes were in the drawer. He has 2 more shirts and 3 more pairs of jeans then pictured.

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That’s it. Most of his clothes are kept in a three drawer dresser. (There is way more space in there than he needs.) The top drawer holds his socks and underwear as well as diaper and changing supplies ( for the 18 month old and 2 month old).

The middle drawer holds his 5 play shirts, one polo, and all his pants.

The bottom drawer holds his sweaters and pajamas. He puts his own pajamas away, and I have not made him fold them so for transparency sake, the drawer looks like this.


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His shoes and slippers are on a low shelf system in his room, and his boots are by the back door in the kitchen. His hoodies hang on a hook with his sisters’ hoodies on the right side of their closet. I probably need to come up with another place for them since 8 hoodies on one hook is a little impractical.

The closet holds the 18 month old’s entire wardrobe, all 3 of the kids’ shoes, all of their dress clothes, extra blankets and sheets, and the preschool boy’s special toys (in hutch).

I also hang some upcoming outfits (gifts usually from relatives on the far right because if I don’t, I tend to forget about them!

The closet has been easy to maintain because the little ones can’t reach their clothes and the preschooler is fairly particular about his things going back on the hutch. (Mostly because it’s the one spot the girls aren’t allowed so it ensures his toys’ safety.)

That’s it. We do tend to wash clothes every day or every other day which may be a dealbreaker for another family, but a minimal wardrobe works very well for us.

-Verity

Prepping for Baby When You Already have Toddlers

Yesterday Lyd and Matthew welcomed baby #3!! She’s super cute.

The birth helped motivate me to get moving on a post I’ve been meaning to write about our last birth.

Having a four-year-old, two-year-old, and one-year-old, I gave the birth of baby number four a lot of thought. Here are some of the things I did, and my feedback in retrospect.

Freezer Meals.

PictureI had collected about 20 freezer meals ahead of time from my freezer meal swap and had also bought about 12 frozen entrées. The bought items were for the week after the birth because my husband does not like to make my premade freezer meals.

In retrospect. The freezer meals were great though neither my mom nor my husband liked using my them. For some reason they found them too confusing. They liked the store-bought items or making their own things, or buying fast food better. It probably depends on your husband or helper.

However, after I lost my helpers and needed to forge on my own, I was very thankful to have those freezer meals!!


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Pantry Prep.

I purchased all the pantry goods we would need for the next month after the baby was born. This included snack items for my husband work lunches and extra items the kids could be handed during the month to make things easier. Many of the kids’ items were not items I would normally buy, but I was willing to make the extra investment to help the transition!!

In retrospect. I think I might do my shopping for snacks a month ahead of time from now on. Having all the snacks sitting there ready and not needing to worry about them on the weekly shopping trip was wonderful. However, we did tend to go through more snacks because we had so many!


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Communication.

Because my husband was taking a week off work and then my mom was coming for a week, I wanted to help them know what food was available, what chores the kids were used to doing, and the schedule the kids were used to. I posted a couple of papers on the fridge so they would have that information.

In retrospect. I’m not sure if they even looked at the papers. However, prepping the papers a month before the baby was due was a huge help to me. I was able to make sure the kids knew their chores ahead of time, and worked to make their chores and schedule more like clockwork. (At least as much like clockwork as you can have when you’re working with a preschooler, toddler, and a mini toddler…)


Cleaning Prep.

My best effort was to get a new slipcover for the couch. Our old one was falling apart, and I realized that that would be a location I would be spending a lot of time with the new baby.

Second best project was cleaning out the fridge and freezers. This helped a lot with keeping food organized, communication going with whoever was working in the kitchen, and helping me get back on my feet.

Third best thing was that I was able to be caught up on laundry. Then after the baby was born I simply needed to have my husband throw in one load each day, and then I folded and put it away. This helped everybody stay in clean clothes even in a huge transition time.


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Older Kid Prep.

Three little ones 4 and under required some thought. I saved some new toy sets in the top of my closet for them for during the time I’d be breastfeeding.

In retrospect. This worked great though adding 5 toy sets along with a new baby was frustrating. I might try disposable items like coloring pads or glow sticks next time – things to occupy them for the first initial few days – then throw away.

Prep I Wish I had Done.

Funny how things feel different when your hands are full!

WAY more decluttering. If I could have two baby free days now – I’d get rid of half our stuff!! (sigh…). I wish I’d gone crazy pre-baby.

More toys and school supplies inaccessible to kids. We had a school drawer that was working great, but now the kids kept getting into it (while I was off with baby. :-P )

Breaking down on older kids’ character issuesBEFORE baby. Having a child who gets too wild is annoying when you have 2 hands to separate and protect smaller siblings, but it’s dangerous when you are tied up with a baby.

So, that’s the summary! I hope it helps if you have a baby on the way!

-Verity

Staying Organized After a Baby – The Kid Cabinet

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Sometimes you need a blessing.

Breast feeding a newborn with older toddlers playing around you is like being stationed in a war zone with your hands tied up with ropes.

You sit and try to relax so the milk lets down and it will go faster while they tear up the house before your eyes.

I needed a blessing!

My blessing came in the form of a cabinet I found on Craigslist. After an exchange of emails, the very kind owners offered it to me for free.

I realized that was generous though I didn’t even realize how generous until I got to their house and saw how nice the cabinet was.

An hour later my husband helped me unload it into our spare room (baby/school/office/picture room), and the next week my mom (a super organizer) helped me organize it, and voila! Sanity was restored!

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The very top shelf holds scissors, superglue, and paperclips.

The second shelf holds all their preschool books, and baskets on the third shelf store their math u see blocks, flash cards, wooden magnet letters and writing utensils.

The cabinet also locks – which is great because it keeps the kids out and everything organized. Yay!!


The bottom of the cabinet holds activities for the kids to do while I breastfeed, some DVDs, as well as their growing collection of hardcover children’s books.

(We just set a budget for me to buy books for them!) My favorite find so far is called the Brave Young Knight by Karen Kingsbury. It teaches that inner character and faith in God is more important then winning a competition or being the best at something.

Now when I need to feed the baby, I just let the 4 year

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old and 3 year old pick one or two things from the cabinet. An hour later, the sets go back in the cabinet, the baby is fed and order was maintained.

Activities that have worked for us are the Melissa and Doug wooden letter game, lacing cards, Leapfrog Letter Factory, Disney Princess dominoes (Like dominoes but pictures instead of dots), simple puzzles, Melissa and Doug wooden magnet dolls, wooden train set, small doll houses, blocks, and coloring.

So if  you have a new baby and have toddlers or preschoolers to occupy or if homeschooling needs to happen with a newborn, a closet or cabinet could be your sanity saver – it was for me!!

- Verity

Organizing: Prime Real Estate

A few years ago I started implementing one of my FAVORITE organizing concepts. I’d never read about it before though it is probably completely common sense to the naturally organized (and a total revelation to the not-so-naturally organized).

The concept is to realize some parts of your home are “prime real estate” and others are not.

Examples of ‘prime real estate’ around the home.
-Entry way table
-Countertops
-Kitchen Cabinets
-Bathroom Cabinets
-Nightstands
-Living Room End Table

‘Prime’ areas are areas you have easy access to and use often during the day.
PictureThe items you use every day should be in the ‘prime’ areas. The items you use rarely should not be in the ‘prime’ areas.

Example 1: Kitchen counters are prime real estate. The items left there should be used every day. Although the $400 Kitchenaid mixer that you use once a month looks cool, it is getting in the way of you doing what you actually need to accomplish on the countertops every day – like make school lunches, dry dishes, etc.

Example 2: An entryway closet is prime real estate. It is a good spot for items you need on your way out the door.

When a ‘prime’ area keeps getting unorganized, it could be that it’s loaded with rarely used items.

PictureExample 3: Kitchen cabinets are prime real estate. Most people use them every day.  My turning point was the day that I packed up the cool springform pans I used about once a winter, the whole fondue set we use only  for New Years, and all the silverware that are for special occasions. I needed to keep these items because I did genuinely use them, but I felt like they were wasting space in my small kitchen. I filled one single plastic box, labeled it clearly, and put it in any easy to access spot in the basement.

I was SHOCKED at how much faster my work became in the kitchen. Even though I’d had ‘room’ for the items I removed, clearing up my kitchen gave me space for speeding up daily tasks I performed every day.

Here is an example of prime real estate using my entry-way closet. It’s fairly small so I have to make sure the items stored there are only the ones used often.

In the first picture, you can see that I have way to much stored in there. Actually, I just needed a spot to store outgoing items. (Returns, items to take to church, random items to send…)

Random bags littered the space. However, they could easily be condensed into a drawer.


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Actually, the solution was just clearing out a single drawer that contained 2 baby carriers and a sling.

I never use those items as much as I intend – especially in the winter time when it’s easier to snuggle the baby in with blankets into his or her car seat and and carry it all out to the car.

This freed up space for outgoing items.

Hats, mittens, scarves, jackets, and all of my husband and my shoes (except the 2 we were wearing when the picture was taken and his hunting boots) are all easy to access.

The carriers went downstairs with the luggage. I will reevaluate in a few months when I have a baby to carry around, but for now I don’t need them.


Here is a picture of the finished outgoing drawer.

The whole project took me about 10 minutes, and the closet looks SO MUCH nicer. Moving rarely used items out to better contain the often used items makes out getting-out-the-door routine SO MUCH FASTER!

- Verity

How to switch out seasonal clothes FAST! (And de-clutter your kids’ closet.)

This is the time of year where many of us need to dedicate some amount of time (hours or even days!) to switching out our clothes, and the clothes of our family members for the new season. I don’t know about you, but every time I used to do this, I would think there must be an easier way to weed through the clothes my kids have outgrown and to track down those that will soon fit them. There are several different methods, and I’m sure we’ll share other aspects of this in future posts, but for now, I have a simple method I have grown to love and I’m excited to share it with you today! :-)

In the weeks leading up to “the big switch,” my kids often outgrow a significant number of clothes. I also start to buy the clothes for the next season. What do I do with all these clothes?Lyd Clothes Organizing

Ta da! Announcing the “Too Big” and “Too Small” boxes!! This has made our life SO much easier! When I notice something is too small, or no longer works for the season, I simply toss it in the “Too Small” box. Similarly, when I buy something new, I wash it and toss it in the “Too Big” box so it is ready to go when needed.

Thanks to these 2 trusty boxes, I kept my kids closet and dresser de-cluttered all summer and when it came time for “the big switch,” it took me approximately 15 minutes for 2 kids! J When I had time later, I sorted them into their appropriate boxes in the basement.


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          Here’s what I did: My husband and I went to IKEA and found a 3 pack of collapsible boxes that lined up perfectly on the top of my kids’ closet. I used scrapbook paper, a fun scissors, and a hot glue gun to make cute signs for 2 of them. The other box I laid sideways to hold pack n’ play sheets and pads.

That was it! Just a few minutes, and you can have a de-cluttered kids room and an easy switch to seasonal clothes! :-)

- Lydia

Organizing During Transitions

transition time is considered any period of time that comes right after a large life change.

Life change is a move, career change, birth of a baby, death of a loved one, marriage etc.
transitionMany people going through a transition time become more interested in decluttering and organizing; this is becausetransition times make us feel like we are not in control, and organizing and decluttering makes us feel like we are in control.

This is a great time to get motivated and make changes, but because of the emotional and physical upheaval involved in such drastic changes, people often struggle when they actually start pairing down stuff.

At the moment we are expecting baby #4 in 5 short weeks! So spurred by this upcoming transition, I’m feeling very motivated to cut any and all extras! Here are some thoughts I have on approaching transitions.

                                                                Approaching Transitions and Decluttering

Enjoy and relish your victories. A big reason you may be organizing now, during a time of upheaval, is to get some control. Stop a minute and be proud of yourself then! You just took FOUR big boxes to Goodwill! You did a good deed and got more control over your closets. Even reward yourself with a frappe coffee drink!. :-) (I love finding reasons to get frappes!!)

Recognize that you may be thinking more clearly in a few months. If there are items that you blank out on and simply don’t know whether not you should get rid of them, just put them in a box and mark them “to go through in three  or six months (set a date on your calendar), when your life settles down a bit. I found that a two years after marriage and year after our first child, I was able to get rid of many more items. I had a better grasp then of our family’s goals and values.

Take control in your main living areas first. If you are feeling claustrophobia from all the clutter, then clear the main areas first. Store the kitchen utensils and appliances that counter but you only use once a month in the closet and take down decorations that are sitting on coffee tables and end tables. The wider open space will make you feel more in control, and later, you can take them back out.

So if you are in a transition, realize what’s going on. This may be a good time to organize, but it may also be a time to just get into the new groove. Both are okay.

- Verity